A 10-week business accelerator was launched on January 22 by the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI), a New Brunswick non-profit that has been facilitating First Nations participation in the New Brunswick economy since 1995.
The first cohort consists of five companies, all of whom will be trained in human resource management, business development, financial management, capital fundraising, project management, and research and development.
Mentors will help participating companies draw up a customized business support plan, as well as facilitate exposure to venture capital, government representatives, business support organizations and other successful entrepreneurs.
Trevor Bernard, a First Nations co-founder and CTO of Fredericton’s UserEvents, is mentoring one of the companies participating in the cohort.
Bernard was previously involved with three New Brunswick companies that saw successful exits: Chalk Media, which was acquired by Research In Motion; Radian6, which sold to Salesforce in 2011 for $326 million; and UserEvents, which was acquired by LiveOps in 2014.
“We wanted to take an advantage of a new opportunity to bring some bright entrepreneurs together with high potential and put them through a customized accelerator program,” Taylor told Entrevestor.
The five companies involved in the first cohort range from a building accessibility app for disabled people to a redesigned river turbine to a technologically enhanced machining process.
Companies will present at the JEDI plenary and at the New Brunswick Aerospace and Defense Association’s Moncton showcase.
Following on from a C.D. Howe report evaluating the overall effect of a high-skill work shortage in Canada, JEDI focuses on the reports finding that “the labour market outcomes of Aboriginal and First Nations people are unacceptable”, the JEDI blog uses this finding to assert that “This represents an opportunity for Aboriginal communities to take the lead on their own labour market outcomes.”